No beta; mistakes all my own.
Disclaimer:- Made no money Fox…this was purely for fun.
This little story is set four to five years before Johnny finally sought out his father, when in my Universe he was nineteen.
In this story, Johnny doesn’t really know how old he is though. All he does know is, he is a rising gun for hire, who has a reputation to withhold….and he is bound and determined to do just that despite how he feels.
He wrapped the bedroll around himself, the silence of early evening, making him feel like he couldn’t breathe. He was cold, but he knew it always got real cold at night in the desert, so it was expected. He flinched, and his hand automatically reached for his pistol by his head, as a lone coyote screeched in the impending darkness.
Breathing out a sigh of relief, he smiled, but his eyes told a different story. They weren’t the innocent eyes of a normal boy his age. No, they were the haunted eyes of a boy who’d seen too much in his young life; the eyes of a mere child, grown old and weary before his time; the eyes of a soul who’d learned to trust no one, and, who in turn, was trusted by no one.
All that was left of the sun’s dying rays was the slight hint of orange low on the distant horizon. He’d lain there and watched the sky paint a myriad of colors, ranging from at first bright yellows to oranges, then reds, mixed with pinks and blues and then purples, before the blackness of the night finally came to consume the setting suns failing light.
The darkness filled him with its usual sense of dread and he looked up at the stars, twinkling in the inky vastness above him. Momentarily he was comforted by them, but in the end they brought him no solace, since they seemed as empty, and as cold as him. He hated the night; hated how it sucked him into the darkness, threatening to consume his very soul.
On his horse and moving with the warm sun on his back, he could imagine a different life. A life he might’ve had, if his son of a bitch gringo father hadn’t rejected him, like some worthless dog. Rejection was something Johnny had got used to over the years but it didn’t stop the rage he felt when he thought of his gringo father. All he knew was his name and he promised himself it was a name, he would never take for his self. He was John Madrid and that was good enough for him, or so he tried to tell himself.
‘I’ll make my own name; it’ll be a name you’ll hear about, bastard.’ He thought shivering now. He watched his breath as he exhaled.. “Jesus its cold.” he cussed out loud.
In the light of day, he at least felt warm and safe, safe in the knowledge that if he could see his enemy, he could at least deal with him. However in the darkness of night, he was made even more aware of just how alone he was and although he would never admit it, he still felt vulnerable at night and it scared him. He curled into a tight ball, knowing it was his hatred and anger for his father that kept him going during the day, but that it was the same hatred that would very often try to consume him at night.
He didn’t know his age in chronological years, but he sure felt old at times at least. He figured he was probably around say eighteen, or at least that’s what he told his employers when they asked him how old he was. He found himself grinning at that, since if the men he worked with reactions, were anything to go by, he was in all reality much younger.
Most times he’d scoff when they told him they didn’t think he’d even seen fourteen yet. Other times, his right hand would hover worryingly over his pistol, and he’d say things like, “You wanna find out just how old I am, mister?” his usual surly attitude kicking right in. Which was usually enough to still their taunts.
He’d always been good at hiding how he really felt and anyway, once they saw how he could handle a pistol, they usually then gave him a wide birth and backed right down; his age, or lack of, no longer an issue. Then he would simply get on with the job in hand. ‘Until the next one came along anyway,’ he thought frowning a little.
He was getting a name for himself, as someone who got the job done and when he mentioned his name, Madrid, eyebrows would rise, followed by scoffs of laughter, as doubt in who he said he was, reigned supreme. Then, once more, he would have to prove himself and the same pattern would immerge. Folks would drift away, fearful that he was so ornery; he would simply put a bullet in them, just to make a point. Such was his reputation. ‘Ain’t that, what it’s all about? Pretend?’ He thought shivering slightly; glad that he could pull the wool over grown men’s eyes, most of the time.
Sometimes, it was as if he were a wanted man; hunted by young men, just like him; older men too who sought out his reputation. That was the downside of hiring out his gun. Kids, not a whole lot older than himself, would turn up to challenge him; wanting to be the one to kill the growing legend that was Johnny Madrid.
He was just grateful that, no one younger than him had challenged him because he wasn’t sure he could’ve handled that. It was bad enough dealing with the guilt he carried anyway, without the knowledge he had ended the life of some stupid kid, hell bent on his own destruction!
He found himself snorting out loud then. ‘Isn’t that what I’m kinda doin’ myself hiring out my gun? Am I that same stupid kid chasin’ somethin’ or nothin’? Fuck!’
Johnny wasn’t stupid by any means but the irony of what he had just thought hit him like a bolt of lightning. The only difference being, he didn’t seek out anyone to challenge and never had, but he couldn’t deny, he rose to every single challenge. ‘Should I now feel guilty that so far I’ve prevailed?’ He shook his head, deciding he wasn’t getting into that now and snuggled in deeper, trying for all he was worth to sleep, knowing that he needed to, if he was to remain sharp and keep his edge. However the minute he closed his eyes, images of the men or boys he had already killed, flashed across his mind, haunting him. ‘All that blood!’ he sighed fighting the tears threatening to build in his eyes.
He had once scoffed at Isham, a young gunfighter at least five years his senior, who’d once told him, he didn’t think he had the heart or the stomach for killing, but he realized now that Isham was right. If he was honest, Killing sickened him, and yet he knew it was something he would have to continue to do, if he was to survive. ‘Hell it’s my life now.’ He sighed.
If he’d known wearing a pistol on his hip would be the cause of so much pain, he would‘ve turned tail and ran as fast as he could. However his very survival had depended upon him picking it up on that fateful day. Almost the minute he’d held it in his hand, he’d known his fate was sealed and the rest was now history.
With the passage of time, he was now considered one of the best in his trade, commanding large sums of money for his services. No one bothered him, and no one called him names or spat at him as he passed them by, but he also knew, he could never take it off…not and live to tell the tail. No, now his life depended on the wearing of it.
‘So here I am, a slave to my pistol! Fuck!’ he realized, his heart aching…’God…! I’m now a known ‘Pistolero’. My gun has mapped out my life. Not that I fought it. No, I slipped right into it. Jesus! Why Johnny? For the notoriety; the glory, the power?…Shit!’ he shook his head. ‘Can’t think of this right now.’ he tried to shake the thoughts away.
For a long time Johnny had literally ached for recognition and his eyes had been blind to the realities his new life would bring. At first he had been consumed by it all. The money, the notoriety; the fear he generated when he walked down a street. It used to amuse him when mothers would gather up their children and run to the other side of the street to simply avoid him. Not to mention the fact that men twice his size, would literally step aside for him a mere kid when they found out he was Johnny Madrid.
The money he made was spent almost as soon as he got it. Right from the beginning, he had been able to pay for every conceivable pleasure that any young man would and could ever want. It was as that simple, if he could pay for it, he did.
In time Johnny had also become quite adept at cards, although he made sure to never get so involved that he lost a great deal of money. Being Johnny Madrid had its perks. In the beginning it had made him feel important, something that had never happened to him before and he’d enjoyed it.
Now it was different. Now he knew better and now, he felt differently. The money he now earned made him feel unclean, so to ease his conscience, he made a habit of giving half of his earnings, to the local Catholic Missions. Only it didn’t make him feel a whole lot better.
His eyes filled with tears that he desperately tried to stifle. ‘Get a grip of yourself!’ He chided himself. His upper lip curling into what could’ve been described as a smile of sorts, if you didn’t know any better. However, anyone taking the time to look would’ve noticed his eyes were filled with the horror of what he thought he was becoming.
He turned over onto his stomach and huffed; the bravado he was working so hard to maintain, saving him from emotions that were now threatening to overwhelm him; to destroy him. ‘I won’t let that happen!’ he thought stubbornly.
“No use in thinkin’ ‘bout it all, Johnny boy. This is your life, deal with it.” He said the words out loud, as he snuggled deeper into his bedroll and closed his eyes once more.
Tomorrow, he would be hiring out his gun again. Once more he knew he would have to prove himself and he got by, by telling himself that he’d never asked for this life; never asked to be born and rejected by his gringo father who he promised himself he would one day seek out and destroy. He also knew, despite his youth, he was now one of the best and more importantly others knew it to. As his reputation grew the challenges were slowing down as fear gripped his fellow gunmen. He sincerely hoped that would continue to be the case, but in order for that to happen, he had to continue being the very best he could be.
“So be it.” He told himself, allowing himself the luxury of finally falling asleep; his gun hand resting on his pistol, under his bedroll by his head, just in case!